Agreements and Music, Part 1
by Dennis Winge
Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz is a bit of ancient wisdom boiled down to
four steps that are very simple but very profound in their implications and can
transform your life if practiced consciously. It’s not a book about music at all, but each
one pertains greatly to being a successful musician or learning an instrument.
four agreements are: 1. Be Impeccable with your Word:
2. Don’t Take Anything Personally; 3. Don’t Make Assumptions; 4. Always Do Your
Best. Today we will focus on number 1: Be Impeccable with your Word. It means understanding the power
of the spoken word and using it to benefit you and everyone around you. How does this apply in music?
The more successful you are as a musician, the more commitments you end
up being offered. Being impeccable with
your word means several things and applies to both the amateur and professional
Be careful with
what you commit to. Tommy Tedesco
said it best. Paraphrasing, he said ‘if
a gig doesn’t have at least one of the following, forget it: 1. Money 2. Learning 3. Networking 4. Fun. This could also apply to forming bands, going
to someone’s house to rehearse, record, or jam.
Take your time seriously, and you will be rewarded for it. Squander your time and you will end up
commitments. Obviously, once you make a
commitment, honor it. If it ends up not
working out for you for personal or musical reasons beyond the short-term, you
can always re-negotiate. But if it’s
just a question of your being lazy or distracted, then do what you say you’ll
3. Give honest, sincere appreciation. Everyone loves to get positive feedback on their
playing. A secret is, you attract what
you radiate. So compliment other players
where it is due. Take it a step further
than the standard line “sounds great!”
Say something specific about what you like about that person’s playing.
4. Constructive criticism is good, but get permission
first. The music industry is notorious for people
getting fired or at least not re-hired for gigs without the person who lost the
opportunity finding out the real reason for the decision. Bandleaders and club-owners typically just
move on the next person or band they think could fit the position better. But if people would simply tell each other,
nicely of course, what they think could be improved, we could all save a lot of
time and energy. However, ask “may I
give you a bit of constructive feedback?” before you volunteer anything.
5. Remind others of their commitments when
appropriate. Venue-owners are
notorious for changing details last-minute on a gig based on all sorts of
reasons, like they didn’t make what they thought they would on ticket sales or
at the bar, and they want to deduct the difference out of the musicians’ wages,
for example. Contracts are
important. Use them when appropriate. If it feels to formal to do a contract for the
event you are being asked to perform, at the very least one of you can
summarize in an email all the details and ask the other person to respond
confirming that the details are right.
This applies not only limited to agreements between musicians and
venues, it could be between several musicians, or different bands, etc.
About the author: Dennis Winge is a
professional guitarist living in New York with a passion for vegan food and bhakti
yoga. If you are interested in taking Guitar Lessons
in Ithaca, NY, then be sure to contact Dennis!